Thursday, August 12, 2010

Class #1 (Original Post 8/7/10)

Well, we survived our first class. I was so excited for it beforehand, and I have to admit I was somewhat disappointed. The reason?  Fear.

We started with an easy warm-up, but all of our heeling practice went out the window and our dog who is normally a saint on the leash was trying to pull me to the door. He would not make eye contact. He was too afraid to eat treats. We were supposed to run at one point and when I started jogging he stopped so fast that his collar came right over his head. Oops.

Next we did stretches and spins which he mostly ignored because, well, it is hard to lure a dog who is literally shaking and is uninterested in food. Rather than stretching or spinning he spent most of this time cuddling in my lap. It was cute, don’t get me wrong, but not what we were going for.
Once we got to using the clicker and practicing targeting, he came out of his shell a little. He’s gotten very good at targeting, so these were his 5 minutes to shine. He was the best in the class and he had one proud mom.

Next we started with obstacles, beginning with a simple board which we were supposed to shape the dogs walking on. He was alright but it turned out our board was in an especially nervous corner, so he was looking less to please and more to find a way out. Oh well.

At the end the dogs got a chance to go over a low A-frame. Jonah was having no part of that, as it was in the same nervous corner our board was in. He sniffed it and that was all we got.

Then we tried the tunnel, which they pulled together so it was only a few feet long. Again, on the first try we had no luck. All the other dogs breezed through. We tried again and, after maybe 2 minutes of me crawling through the tunnel and trying to lure and sweet talk him through, he finally went! It was exhausting, but at least I felt like we accomplished something.

Anyway, I was discouraged when we left but on the way home I thought back on how far he has come. When we got him, he wouldn’t walk through doorways, wouldn’t get in the car, wouldn’t go in new buildings and he growled at strangers. The first time we used the clicker, he was so terrified that I was seriously afraid we had lost his trust. Now he is great with all of those things. After considering all this, I have new hope that, once he gets comfortable in the agility space and he understands what we are asking of him, we will once again see the happy, grinning, wagging pup we know so well.  It was a harsh wake up call and at times it was embarrassing to be the one with the ‘delinquent’ dog, but hey, we’ve got lots of room for improvement.  Time to start practicing!

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